Middle Europe Corrections Roundtable, (MECR), Goes From Strength To Strength

By Fraser Bryans - May 25th, 2010

The ICPA took part in a very successful 4th meeting of the MECR on 11-12 May 2010 in Slovenia, as guests of the Slovenian Justice Ministry.

The Director General of the Slovenian Prison Service, Dusan Valentincic, welcomed 9 heads of corrections and the ICPA to a tour of the prison in the city of Koper, before gathering in the capital, Ljubljana, to discuss current issues, exchange ideas and share best practice.

The MECR were honoured by being joined by His Excellency, Ales Zalar, the Slovenian Minister of Justice, who said that he had been pleased to be informed of the MECR, which he thought was a very good initiative and was keen to meet its members. He hoped it would continue to develop. He went on to stress the importance of prisoner rehabilitation and the need to respect prisoners rights.

Speaking after the MECR meeting, the MECR Chair and Chief Coordinator, Dr Karin Dotter-Schiller, Deputy DG of the Austrian Prison Service, said: "This was the largest meeting yet of the MECR. Despite their very full diaries, 9 Heads of Corrections and the ICPA President, Tony Cameron,C.B., managed to meet again for some very useful exchanges of information and discussion of current issues, including, prison overcrowding, electronic monitoring and human rights.

Working together in this way has shown us that we can be more productive and avoid each of us trying to re-invent the wheel. As the MECR matures,the discussions have become more informal and close and our work has already led to more contact between meetings and the launching of some bi-lateral initiatives. We agreed to meet next in November in Budapest as guests of our Hungarian friends.

I am really pleased to see how far we have progressed since I kicked off this initiative in my own Ministry of Justice in Vienna at the beginning of 2009."

The MECR was created on the initiative of the Austrian Prison Service, assisted by the ICPA, with the aim of improving quality, effectiveness and efficiency in the correctional systems of the countries of Middle Europe.

The members of the MECR are Austria, Bavaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia,and Switzerland.

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